Human, Social And Political Science @ Downing, Cambridge in 2016

Interview format

Interview loosely based on personal statement

Interview content

Some of the questions can be very broad

Best preparation

Formulate your own opinions on current affairs to practise thinking about political issues

Final thoughts

Don't overthink!

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

My interview day was made up of 2 interviews an hour or so apart in the morning. A current student took me from registration to the first interview which was mostly Politics based and then again to my second one which was mostly Sociology/Anthropology based. They were about 30-40 minutes each and the questions were loosely based on my personal statement.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My first interview was pretty firmly rooted in questions about international hierarchy. It was intimidating because politics wasn't my best area but they were lovely and just seemed to want to know how I thought. They asked me to think around issues of appropriation and intervention rather than expecting specific prior knowledge.

My second began with a very broad question based mostly around identity, but I think it probably varies a lot depending on your specific interests. It was more of a discussion than question/answer session and I actually really enjoyed it - even though I was convinced I'd made a fool of myself!

How did you prepare?

My school tried to organise me a mock interviews but it's a hard subject to find a specialist in so my best prep was probably just reading. Reading articles and books about current events and issues and taking time to think around them and properly consider my opinions helped me to do the same in the interview I think.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

Don't overthink how you feel like they went afterwards - it's impossible to know. Just show them your thought process around whatever they ask and don't stress about giving answers you think they might 'want'.